Admissions terminology

The Australian Government's Higher Education Standards Panel has directed all universities across Australia to adopt a standard approach when providing information to students about admissions criteria and processes. This approach includes using the following common terminology.

Admission pathway Any option available to prospective higher education students that will enable them to meet the entry requirements of their chosen courses.

Adjustment factors Previously referred to as ‘bonus points’, these are additional points that may be used in combination with an applicant’s Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) to derive their course selection rank. Adjustments do not change applicants’ ATARs, but change their selection rank for a particular course or courses. Common types of adjustment factors are:

  • elite athlete and performer adjustments: Adjustments available on the basis of the applicant’s sporting or artistic prowess.
  • equity adjustment: Adjustment available on the basis of characteristics associated with disadvantage.
  • location adjustment: Adjustment available on the basis of the applicant’s proximity to the institution offering the course.
  • subject adjustment: Adjustment available on the basis of the particular relevance to the academic requirements of a higher education course of a secondary subject that the applicant undertook.
  • maximum adjustment: The maximum total adjustments possible to an applicant’s selection rank from the combination of all adjustments they are eligible for.

Advanced standing A form of credit for any previous learning (Australian Qualifications Framework definition) – see also ‘Credit transfer’ and ‘Recognition of prior learning’.

Applicant and prospective student Terms used by tertiary admission centres and higher education institutions to describe people at different stages of their application processes. An applicant is generally taken to be a person who has already lodged an application to study a specific course. A prospective student is generally taken to be a person who is thinking about lodging an application to study a particular course but has not yet done so.

Bridging course A short course offered by the university to help you gain the required level of assumed knowledge for your degree. They are particularly common in science- and maths-related degrees.

Credit transfer A process that provides students with agreed and consistent credit outcomes for components of a qualification based on identified equivalence in content and learning outcomes between matched qualifications (Australian Qualifications Framework definition).

Direct application Application made to a higher education provider rather than through a tertiary admissions centre.

Early offer Where an offer of enrolment is made to a recent secondary school student prior to release of ATARs or equivalent (eg OP in Queensland, IB). Such offers are generally conditional on other requirements being met, such as successful completion of a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or achievement of a specified minimum ATAR.

Enabling course A course designed to provide students with skills needed for success in further study, to assist in the transition to tertiary education (eg study techniques or English language skills). Successful completion helps prepare a person to be admitted to a course that leads to a higher education award.

Experience based entry scheme A selection method used by higher education providers to assess and select students who may not have educational qualifications sufficient for an offer of admission to a course but who have other relevant work and life skills and experience that make them a suitable candidate.

Offer round/s Refers to the series of dates on which offers of higher education places are issued to applicants throughout the year, whether through a tertiary admission centre or directly by a higher education provider.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) A process used to assess an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit that may be granted towards completion of a qualification (adapted from Australian Qualifications Framework definition).

School recommendation A recommendation from a school or other secondary education provider on the abilities of a student. Previously referred to by some as a principal’s recommendation.

TAC application Application made through a tertiary admission centre, namely QTAC, UAC, VTAC, SATAC, TISC and University of Tasmania, in relation to applications to study in that state.